Lot 15 Committee
August 18, 2011
Present: Carrie Harlow, Joe Iadanza, John Kiedaisch, Rocky Martin
Also in attendance: John Roos
Update: John K has received word that the Preservation Trust of Vermont (a 501c3) has offered to provide the Town a grant to pay for the appraisal for Lot 15. PTVT noted it will be important that an appraiser chosen is “approved” by various agencies/foundations as acceptable or certified. PTVT recommends using the same list of approved appraisers that the VHCB (VT Housing Conservation Board) uses. JK will get that list.
• Rocky suggested having a good case for the Select Board as to “why now?” for appraisal other than needing to move quickly, given the 120 day deadline and the length of lead time an appraisal needs.
• Committee noted getting an appraisal done does not necessarily mean that the town is purchasing Lot 15, but is a first step to applying for grant funding.
• Joe mentioned that having an appraisal quickly could prove to be an aid to the Select Board in deciding whether or not to pursue acquisition of Lot 15.
• John K added the question begs to be asked “Who decides,” the Select Board, the voters, etc?If a very high appraisal comes through, then would the Select Board choose to pass on this project, without consultation?
• John R mentioned that the town may also be considering legal fees as an additional cost to acquisition.
In terms of “Steps to Acquire” Lot 15: the committee agreed it would be good to have consultation/meeting with Town Attorney as purchase of Lot 15 may involve complex legal proceedings other than resolving the implications of the Official Map.This will be another expenditure request to Select Board – authorization to meet with Bud Allen, or another attorney – maybe Joe Fallon or Steve Stitzel if Bud is not comfortable with real estate legal issues.
• John R also mentioned Liam Murphy.
• The committee agreed that 3 to 4 hours of attorney time would be adequate to meet with attorney, have some time spent outside the meeting and submit a written report.
Funding options are being researched through the Center for Rural Studies website, the VT Community Foundation website, as well as the VT Division for Historic Preservation website. John K recommended all potential funding sources be listed – sorted by funding for purchase, planning, development, and maintenance.
Continuation of discussion from last meeting regarding potential commercial use of Lot 15. Joe I mentioned if we are using the Official Map to deny a commercial use for the entire lot, the town may need to be mindful how much of the property could be used for commercial use after a hypothetical DRB denial.
• Maybe this option involves subdividing the land, with most use going toward town use, with a smaller portion being subdivided and used for commercial use.John R mentioned that the Official Map could be open for interpretation.Carrie mentioned that some funding sources (VT Housing and Conservation Board) have easements attached to their funding, which could inform what could be done with the land (or means careful planning while applying for funding).
• Rocky stated these could be good questions for the lawyer.
• This scenario requires a thoughtful process that does not hamper the community public use indicated on the Official Map.
John K informed the committee as to the meeting he had with Julie Foley (State Wetland Division). They did not get access to the land, and were not able to gather soil samples or examine hydrological conditions, so no wetland delineation or classification data could be collected.John K showed the conceptual plans Mike B had developed to JF.She encouraged development not to cross any wetlands areas, but stay on the Northern side of Lot 15 toward Commerce Street. JF stated that the town would go through the same state review process as Hannaford is going through now if there was any development proposed – e.g., a town green, a mixture of public and private activities, an accessible wetland park.JF noted at this point, Hannaford has not submitted or requested anything from her department, but she anticipated the request would be coming within the next few weeks based on recent discussions she has had with Hannaford representatives.
John R is writing a paper for the committee about tax implications and cost to town comparisons between Williston and Hinesburg. He noted the Williston 1% municipal sales tax also has implications for property tax rates in Williston.John R is interpreting the data he gathered, after speaking with numerous officials in Williston.He wants to determine if possible, whether retail draws more town services than residential, industrial or other commercial property.Based on using percentages of property values, taxes and services, there could be an assumption that having commercial retail property in a municipality doesn’t necessarily lower taxes for residential taxpayers over the long term.
Need to include the Impact Fees the town will collect from any private development on Lot 15; will effect paying for additional town services required by such development.
Next steps: John K will be meeting with Select Board next Monday, Aug 22. He will talk about appraisal and ask for funds for committee to meet with attorney.
• Rocky could put together an RFP for appraiser.
Next meeting tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, August 30 at 7:15 pm